Social media was set ablaze Sunday (July 4) after footage surfaced of a gigantic inferno on Dashli Island in the Caspian Sea.
After ruling out a possible emergency at an offshore oil and gas production, or other industrial and transport infrastructure facilities, a helicopter tour around the island revealed the real culprit: A mud volcano, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
A spokesperson from the state oil and gas company SOCAR told BBC that the blast occurred about 10 kilometres from the Umid gas field, situated 75 km off the coast of Azerbaijan's capital Baku. The mud volcano is on Dashli Island, approximately 30 km from the coast of Azerbaijan.
A mud volcano erupted Sunday on Dashli Island. (Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan)
The fire lingered into Monday morning, but didn't pose a threat to the oil and gas infrastructure or to people, Azerbaijan's emergency ministry said.
MUD VOLCANOES SHOOT OUT MIX OF MUD AND WATER INSTEAD OF LAVA
According to BBC, around 400 of the world's estimated 1,000 mud volcanoes are located in Azerbaijan. The country has garnered the "Land of Fire" nickname, and is renowned for its copious oil and natural gas reserves.
Mud volcanoes are a rare type that discharge a superheated sludge of mud and water, not lava, so they don't get quite as hot as a typical volcano. But they do hold high concentrations of natural gases that expand inside, which can catch fire from sparks initiated by fast-moving rocks and boulders below the surface as the volcano erupts. This is what is thought to have caused the recent blast in the Caspian Sea.
"The mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan are some of the biggest and most violent in the world. There are, on average, several large mud volcano eruptions each year, and many of them can have big fires," Dr. Mark Tingay, a geophysicist at the University of Adelaide, tweeted on Sunday.
(Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan)
Thumbnail courtesy of Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Nathan Howes can be followed on Twitter: @HowesNathan.